“Trolley Bell Comm 101” The Significance of the Trolley Bell

Recently a recurring theme has occurred on my Facebook page about how I am so easily entertained.  I think a more apt description would be that I have the ability to easily entertain myself. (and no, we’re not going in THAT direction)  Anyway, I am not sure if this is learned behavior from being an only child, or if it is innate.  But for as long as I can remember, I have always been able to do it.  Luckily (for them), my family quickly caught on to this when I was a child and saved themselves many hours of having to “provide” entertainment for me.

When I was a child my Grandma used to babysit for me.  In her kitchen was huge laminated world map and a rolling dishwasher (the kind you would have to roll to the sink to hook up) was staged beneath it.  My favorite game involved sitting on top of the dishwasher and waiting for Grandma to say the name of a country. I would then search for as long as it took to find it.  Do you have any idea how long it takes to find Sri Lanka on a world map when you don’t know where it is? Yep, Grandma is a genius!  Score two hours of peace for her!  So that little story is just to give you a sense of history. Now let’s get to today’s topic. . .

The Significance of the Trolley Bell

What’s a good bus blog without a good bus story, right?  For the purposes of this blog, I am introducing you to someone new. He will be known as “apostrophe Z” or ‘Z.  Let’s just say ‘Z and I are kindred spirits in many ways and he is one of my best friends and he and I totally understand the significance of the Trolley bell!  You see, the Trolley route is well, let’s just say it’s the Trolley route.  Okay, it kind of sucks, but it has it’s moments.  So when doing that route, one needs to treasure those moments and treat them like gold!

Here’s how it works: If you are doing the Trolley route, one aspect can make or break your day. (this is from my perspective of course, and others would firmly disagree, but not ‘Z, he gets it!) Two things can happen, you either get a bus and it says “Trolley” on the headsign, or you totally score an actual Trolley with the bell!!!  Now recently, management has been enforcing some ancient rule I was even unaware of (but has never been an issue with me) and that is that every time you pick someone up, you are supposed to ring the bell.  Hey, no problem! Now I have even more reasons to ring it!  But you see, that reason is no fun, it’s obligatory. So let me tell you how the Trolley bell should be used (and is) by both me and ‘Z.  Let’s call it “Trolley Bell Comm 101”.

One ring: Yawn, boring, obligatory

Two rings is where it gets interesting.  This can mean a myriad of things depending on the circumstance.  I’ll choose my faves and start from there.  It can mean “Hey fellow bus driver, you’re in a hybrid and I’m stuck in this all day. Hello!” or “Hey, I know that person walking, look over here and wave, I’m stuck in here all day!” or “Hey, clueless pedestrian staring at your cell-phone and about to get run over by the Trolley, you might want to look up” or “Hey Lance with the earbuds in, can you pedal a little faster?” and my favorite 2-ringer is when you need to change lanes and someone actually let’s you in. That 2-ringer is “Thank You”.  (I’ve also used it for “Fuck You”, but don’t tell anyone!)  Ah, Samuel Morse and I would have been great friends!

Four-ringers are for especially good friends and they mean, “Hey! That’s fantastic you are in a Hybrid and doing a fun route, while I’m stuck in here all day!”

And my favorite is more than 10. Not often used, but used for emphasis! ‘Z perfected that one.  You see ‘Z and I are avid bell-ringers to begin with, so when a supervisor called ‘Z to ask if he was ringing the bell (you know, for this new enforcement of ancient rule), ‘Z replied, “Oh, I’m ringing the (pause) out of the bell.”  So as our routes crossed paths a couple minutes later, ‘Z ding-donged the shit out of that thing and I laughed about it all the way downtown. Still laugh about it now!

My point is, everyone has to earn a living and sometimes you don’t get exactly what you want.  But fun times can still be had if you look at things a little differently.  ‘Z and I still enjoy ourselves even when we don’t actually get to “talk” to each other every day.  Develop your own “Trolley code” and you can still communicate, and also have a little fun in the process.


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